The First Ascent of Mount Ruapehu
[Account of Beetham's 1878 Attempt on Mount Ruapehu]
The following is a written account that was left by the late George Beetham of his first climb on the Volcanic mountain, Ruapehu :—
During the month of March, 1878, I found myself for the first time for many years with a few weeks’ spare time at my disposal. Therefore, I determined to gratify a wish that had taken possession of my mind for many years, to visit the volcanic district of Ruapehu and Tongariro. I had previously made arrangements to accompany Mr. W. Birch to his station, Erewhon, in the Upper Patea District, he had promised to ascend Mount Ruapehu with me. However, business at Masterton prevented me keeping the appointment, and on my arrival at Hastings, Hawkes Bay, I found that he had started on his journey inland on the very morning of my arrival. I was naturally disappointed at thus missing my friend and guide, but decided to follow him. Before starting, however, I visited Napier to provide myself with the sinews of war in the way of money, and to secure the necessary outfit—waterproof, blanket, etc. I had the advantage also, while at Napier, of receiving some excellent advice from my brother Richmond, who, during his residence at Queenstown, Otago, had had many opportunities of ascertaining the difficulties of travelling in high latitudes, and who, in passing from Queenstown over the high mountains to Martin's Bay, had to contend with perhaps more snow and ice than I was likely to experience on Mount Ruapehu, in the warmer climate of the Northern Island.
I left Hastings on Sunday, the 17th March, and reached Matapiro, Mr. Shrimpton's sheep station, about half-past seven p.m. the same night, one of the hottest I have felt in New Zealand. Mr. Shrimpton informed me in respect of the route I had to pursue in order to reach Erewhon, in such a lucid manner that I had not the slightest difficulty in finding the way. The next morning I left Matapiro about seven a.m., and for the first ten miles got along very pleasantly—the road passing through comparatively level country until I reached the Iron Sheds. These sheds are used as a depôt by Messrs. Birch & Moorhouse, and here their system of transport changes—the string of pack-horses giving place to wheel conveyances; the price paid for carriage from this point being 60s. per ton. Leaving the Iron Sheds, the road passes over broken country, high limestone ridges interspersed with small valleys and hills, until the Ngaruroro Gorge is reached, about 24 miles page 10 from Matapiro, where, as one descends from the high range, a pretty flat of about 100 acres is seen below, looking, with its level surface and green growth of high grass, as if Nature intended it as a resting-place for man and beast. This place, Kuripapanga, is a halt for the pack-horse trains, and two raupo wharés have been built there to shelter travellers.
The Ngaruroro is here a rapid, picturesque river, running through steep gorges at either end of the flat—the bed of the river is comprised of a hard, slatey rock in staircase form, that causes the river to rush downwards in a series of rapids—the sound and appearance of the water was, on the hot day, very refreshing. I lunched here and rested my horse for an hour and a-half before recommencing my journey. After crossing the river I had a most tiring climb out of the valley, by a zig-zag track cut up the face of a steep hill that bears the name of Gentle Annie—I cannot imagine why such a sweet name should be given to such an uninteresting hill!
About six miles of ups and downs brought me to the Taruarau—a branch of the Ngaruroro, a river that, like the latter, runs through the most broken country that it has yet been my lot to travel over. Both these streams have by some means forced a channel through the back-bone of the North Island, and drain the northern slope of the Kaweka Range (a continuation of the Ruahine and Tararua mountains), and the south-eastern slopes of the Kaimanawa Ranges. The Taruarau River runs from, and is for some distance, the boundary of Mr. Studholme's run, Ohauku.
When ascending the spur leading to the upper plateau country of Patea, I was surprised to find the Taruarau running to the eastward on my right and to the west on my left—the river seeming to be retracing its course for the pleasure of piercing the end of the Ruahine Ranges instead of taking its natural course through low country to the eastward and joining the Ngaruroro River. This eccentric course seems to be taken by most of the rivers in the high central regions of the North Island, the Moawhanga, Rangitikei, Wanganui, and several others being cases in point—perhaps the violent earthquakes during the period of volcanic eruptions may be answerable for such a state of things. It was a great relief for both myself and horse to reach the plateau of Ohauku, the watershed of the Rangitikei River which runs into Cook's Straits, and the Ngaruroro and Taruarau Rivers, which run into Hawkes Bay on the east coast of the Island.
I had now reached a different class of country altogether; looking west and north, fine rolling downs met the eye, covered with tussock grass, and here and there patches of growing flax (phormium tenax). This pastoral country is bounded on the east by the Kaweka, north by the Kaimanawa, and south-east by the Ruahine Mountains—comparatively low-wooded country, through which run the Rangitikei and Wangaehu Rivers and forming the boundary of the clear open country to the south-west. I soon came to a mark for which I was told to look, namely, a very primitive post- page 11 office, which comprised a kerosene tin stuck on a post. At this point, the road branches off to Mr. Studholme's station and Renata's run on the banks of the Rangitikei River. In conformity with my directions, I took the track leading to south-west, and a pleasant ride of about nine miles brought me to the banks of the Rangitikei—a very picturesque river flowing over dark boulders of a slatey rock; I was much surprised with the volume of water that was running over the ford. The bed of the river seemed to me here to contain more water than it did when crossing the shingle bed from 80 to 100 miles lower down the river, and after it has received the water from several affluents, the Moawhango and several other streams of considerable volume. I here found two men in difficulties. They had succeeded in getting a number of merino rams on to an island of shingle in the middle of the river, but from there they would neither go backwards nor forwards. However, with the assistance of myself and horse the sheep were driven across the river, although not until darkness had covered the face of the water.
Four miles journeying from the river and following the dray track, for it was now quite dark, brought me to Mr. Birch's shearing station, where I was very hospitably received by Mr. Berkely, the Manager, and soon forgot the weariness consequent on a ride of fifty-seven miles over rough and hilly country.
The next day, Mr. Berkely accompanied me to call on my friend, Mr. Birch, who was at another homestead, perched on a very pretty hill-top near a kowhai bush, from which an extensive view was enjoyed. In the afternoon, I rode with Mr. Birch to visit some Maoris living at a pa built on the banks of the Moawhango River; this river is one of the boundaries of the Erewhon run. At this Kainga (Maori village) I saw what Maori energy can do, for the Maoris pointed out, with pardonable pride, two large millstones that they had managed to convey to their Kainga over the road that I had found the day previous quite enough difficulty to pass over on horseback. There is a very nice piece of flat country on each side of the Moawhango at this point, and I was glad to see that the natives were making preparations, by fencing and ploughing, to grow wheat in quantities sufficient to bring grist to the mill, which, by-the-by, has yet to be erected, and will be worked by water-power, a plentiful supply being available. The natives in this Kainga are a branch of the Ngatitaina tribe; they lost some men in the war, being killed by a party under direction of Te Kooti. Apropos of this warlike subject, I could not help admiring the pluck shown by Mr. Birch and most of his men, who stuck to their posts through the whole of the war—with the likelihood of Te Kooti making a descent upon them at any time. I spent this evening with Messrs. Birch and Berkely at their shearing station, and, to my regret, owing to Mr. Berkely's cottage being so overcrowded, my host, Mr. Birch, insisted on “dossing down” before the fire, page 12 wrapped only in a rug and generously giving up to his visitors the available sleeping accommodation.
We started early next morning to the out-station on the Kaimanawa Ranges in company with Mr. Birch and a man named Michael Ruddy, who was detailed by Mr. Berkely to be my attendant. I was also provided with a fresh horse for myself, a pack-horse, and a horse for “Micky,” with a tent, cooking utensils, blankets, and food sufficient to last us for seven or eight days. Before reaching Kaimanawa we passed over a pretty valley, which Mr. Birch utilizes as a cattle and pack-horse run, and then began the ascent of the Kaimanawa Range by a very steep sledge track, used for bringing timber from the terraces on the ranges. In climbing this, I thought that if Ruapehu is anything like this I should be more pleasantly employed in travelling in less elevated regions. However, we had a very pleasant run from the long stretch of terrace-land which extends for some miles, covered for the most part with snow and tussock grasses, with here and there, in sheltered valleys, good sheep feed.
From this high land we had a good view of Mounts Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe and the high lands towards the west coast. We camped at sun-down by one of Mr. Birch's out-stations, Mr. Birch sharing the tent with me.
About nine a.m. we packed up and started, Mr. Birch accompanying me for some distance to point out the road across the “desert,” and then leaving me to attend to his mustering and sheep work. I regretted his departure very much, for I had long looked forward to the pleasure of the journey with him, and another reason was that I felt rather like a poacher attempting Ruapehu, I being a manuhiri (visitor), without the countenance of one of the old settlers in the district.
I reached the Wangaehu River about noon, and was much surprised to see the colour of the water, which was just like milk, but the taste was far different. I should liken it to sour sulphurous sea water. The horses were thirsty, but would not touch it.
[Note.—The waters of the Whangaehu River are so strongly impregnated with sulphur that fish cannot live in them.]
The Wangaehu River bounds the Onetapu Desert. From this point, looking towards Ruapehu, I fancied I could distinguish a waterfall quite up in the region of snow. As I rode forward, it just looked like a band of snow laid vertically on the mountain-side, but watching it carefully I could see it sometimes changed its position, but not being sure, I made up my mind to journey towards it, to satisfy my curiosity. About an hour took us across the desert to the point where the Wangaehu emerged from the lava beds and spurs of ashes, and other volcanic ejecta that cover the slopes of Ruapehu. This, I imagine, is the point mentioned by Mr. J. C. Crawford in his description of his journey, where he mentions reaching a rock page 13 from which flows on one side the Wangaehu and the other Waikato Rivers, but subsequent exploration showed me that the point alluded to by the Maoris in their traditions was at least 4,000 feet higher up the mountain, and distant probably five miles from where we were. We had lunch and, tying up our horses to some huge fragments of lava rock, we started up the bed of the stream, climbing over trachyte boulders and lava, and in our progress passing some very picturesque falls formed by the Wangaehu River, crossing over from side to side of the different lava beds, leaping from the jagged edges into the most curiously shaped pools—in some places washing out caverns under the lava by carrying away the loose calcined ashes covered by the lava in its passage from the crater down the mountain side. This was my first introduction to a volcanic region, and I was exceedingly interested in all that I saw; the huge blocks of trachyte—the peculiar shape of the lava beds—in many cases much wider at the top of the bed than the bottom, evidently showing that at the time of eruption the streams of molten matter had taken the channels of the water in their course down the mountain. Then, when consolidated, the water from the melting snows had in its turn washed out new courses, attacking its usurper in flank and underneath, and pouring across it, attempting, by the ceaseless wearing action, to revenge itself. But the hard metallic rock seems to rear its magnificent crags in defiance of water and weather, and will do so, I should say, for countless ages to come.
In some places I noticed that at the termination of the flow of lava the molten mass had, as it gradually cooled in rolling onward, solidified in the form of a gigantic whorl, the thin circular end being in some cases pressed against the side of a mass of trachyte boulders and ashes that the molten mass had not body enough to overcome.
We followed the course of the torrent for about two hours, when “Micky” very wisely reminded me that we had not yet fixed on our place for camping, and that the sun was getting low. Recognizing the necessity of making provision for the night, I reluctantly commenced to retrace my steps down the ravine without reaching the goal I was striving for—the Wangaehu Fall—which I could see from the position of the gorge whence it flows was yet some two miles distant—two rough miles that would have taken us nearly two hours to travel. We found our horses as we had left them, and at once started for the northern slopes of the range, journeying over the cinder spurs with here and there a lava bed, but although the northern spur always appeared to be but a short distance off it seemed to vanish as we proceeded, and when at last we attained what all along was the spur we wished to reach, it proved to be not the northen spur but the leading ridge between the Wangaehu and the Waikato Rivers, and at least six miles from our wished-for haven. To add to our troubles and disappointment the rain began to fall, accompanied by a strong, cold breeze from the mountain. I looked round page 14 for some friendly shelter for ourselves and horses, but not a bush, tree, or a blade of grass was to be seen except in the distance, an oasis on the plain, that had caught my eye when we were higher up on the mountain. I could plainly see that our only chance of shelter was to make for the bush, about eight miles off; we thereupon descended as rapidly as possible, the rain keeping us company and settling down to a general downpour. We reached the bush some time after daylight had disappeared, but fortunately for us the moon gave a shrouded light through the clouds and rain, or we should have had to camp out without shelter or feed for our horses.
We, however, forgot all these inconveniences after we had pitched our camp and enjoyed a cup of tea; covering some of the moss, which grows very plentifully in those high latitudes, with my waterproof blanket, made a very comfortable bed. “Micky” was weary and soon slept, but I was so much disturbed at the ceaseless patter on the tent that I could not sleep. I knew that it was the first rain that had fallen for some months, and I realized that all chance of an ascent was over for the time being, as the new fall of snow would hide the crevasses and other dangerous places.
The morning broke, fortunately for me, upon a comparatively clear sky, but with the summit of the mountain covered with clouds. I therefore made up my mind not to attempt the ascent that day, but to finish my exploration of the Wangaehu Valley—having come to the conclusion the preceding day that the Wangaehu ran from the lip of the extinct crater of Ruapehu, an assumption that I afterwards found to be correct.
Taking advantage of the knowledge of the eastern slope of the mountain, acquired on the previous day, we rode our horses well up the leading spurs between the two rivers to a point that brought us nearly to the snow-line, just below the rock always talked of by the Maoris, that divides the Wangaehu and Waikato Rivers. Here we came upon a very picturesque waterfall coming from the snowfields over lava and trachyte cliffs into the Waikato Valley which, for some distance, extends to the southward, draining the greater part of the north-eastern slopes of the mountain—the Wangaehu draining the south-eastern slopes.
I could not see the fall as distinctly as I wished because the cliff on which I was standing overhung the point from which the water leaps, but I could, course, hear it rushing down the mountain side with great force.
From this cliff, with “Micky's” assistance, I dislodged, some huge fragsments of lava and sent them hurtling into the abyss below, the metallic crash they made on reaching the bottom, echoing from cliff to cliff with great effect.
We attempted to reach the central peak of the mountain, but were met by a strong south-west gale and snowstorm, or rather sleet, for the snow cut like pins and needles, and I found that it was impossible to face it, and therefore we returned to camp, reaching the tent about five o'clock.page 15
As each morning that I had seen Mount Ruapehu, its top became covered with dense mist about ten o'clock, I decided to start from camp before daylight so as to reach the base of the mountain as early as possible. As it was necessary that one of us should wake early I slept with one eye open and we managed to rise, get our horses saddled, our breakfast eaten, and make a start from the camp before daylight. By seven o'clock we reached the highest point that horses could carry us, and there leaving our horses, each with a bag of grass that we had gathered on our way, we started for the summit. At first it was very tiring work walking on the soft, moving ashes and climbing up the rocks, but on reaching a certain height above the commencement of the snowline, we came upon a sheet of ice, the rain or sleet of the night before having frozen, where no footing could be found; we had to cut steps to enable us to hold on and continue our ascent. Here my man “Micky” having slipped, and finding that having started he could with great difficulty only stop himself by clutching at the rocks, got very much alarmed and wished to turn back, but I was determined to push on, if I had to chop out every footstep, and after a considerable amount of labour we reached the level of the snowfield. Above the field was a glittering sheet of ice as slippery as glass. After admiring the view over the whole country we opened a tin of sardines and had lunch under the shelter of a rock. Rather an unfortunate accident here befell us, for after opening the sardine tin with my tomahawk, I laid it down, as I thought, on a level piece of ice, but away the confounded thing slipped as if it had been endowed with life and disappeared over the icefield to the north. This rather startled me—and “Micky” still more. I thought I would then try and see if it were possible to reach the southern point, and with that object tied a horse's tether rope to “Micky” and myself, but directly I tightened the rope on my onward journey over the icefield, down went “Micky,” and nothing would induce him to venture further, rope or no rope! However, without the tomahawk we could not have gone many yards, as the snowfields proved to be separated from the leading ridge by apparently unapproachable crevasses, and with the means at our disposal we could not cross them. Taking this into consideration, and also the dangerous surfaces of the frozen snowfields, I thought it wiser to turn back after I had tried forcing the sardine tin in a crevice of the rock and, cutting a hole through it, stuck up my alpenstock with a flag attached. In fastening the flag to the stick, using the sardine tin as a hammer, I took some nails out of my pocket, but directly I put them down on the ice they were frozen to it so firmly that I could not pick them up again. I had put my knife down on a rock while I fastened the flag, and on looking round I found that my knife was gone. I suppose the wind must have moved it, and directly afterwards I heard “Micky” calling out something, but as the wind was now blowing very strongly I could not hear what he said, nor could he hear me answer. He plucked up courage and came to the summit with my knife in his hand; page 16 it had fortunately rolled into a crevasse and slid to the spot where we first reached the icefield. This mysterious disappearance of tomahawk and knife, and the peculiar mournful roaring of the wind that was bringing heavy clouds over the mountain, made me wish to be off the ice and again down the mountain-side, and “Micky” was particularly anxious to leave such a weird and mysterious place.
We reached the horses without any mishap, but I nearly had a misadventure by foolishly taking a snow slope as a pathway instead of clambering over the rocks as “Micky” very wisely did. I was tempted by a quantity of loose snow that permitted me to slowly progress downhill, my feet sinking in the snow, and I ventured on this easy path that might have led to my destruction, for the layer of snow got thinner and at length I slipped, and if I had lost my presence of mind I should not have been here to tell this tale, but I kept my hands flat on the snow and kept my heels down as well as I could and was brought up by my hands accumulating a quantity of snow under my coat. After that I made to the side of the snow-slide and clambered over the rocks quite contentedly.
The journey down the mountain was not so difficult as I expected, as when we reached the lower levels the sun, which at one o'clock seemed to have considerable power, had, where the ice was thin, thawed it so much that our heels went through it and gave us a good foothold on the rocks and ashes. The northern peak itself was, on our ascent, a magnificent sight, being covered with the most splendid icicles that I have either seen or imagined. It was the first time that I had been able to realize what an Arctic winter must be; the icicles glistening in the sun and the fact of all the rocks being covered with a sheet of ice made it appear as if a river was flowing like a cascade over the rocks, and, glistening in the sunlight, the effect was marvellously beautiful. Had we attempted the ascent later in the day we should not have had so much ice to contend with, but I had been nervous that we should lose the view, and perhaps also our way in returning. The view we had from the summit was also inexpressibly fine and grand. The outline of the crater of Ngauruhoe looked quite dwarfed below us, and we could see the steam issuing from it and condensing in the cold air. Lake Taupo to the east and the Tongariro River, the Kaimanawa and Ruahine Ranges to the east and south, the Muruwhi Plain and the Ngaehu Valley to the south-west, the source of the Wanganui River to the north, and the peak of the Ngauruhoe towering above its clouds, were all mirrored beneath us with great distinctness, but, as heavy banks of clouds were over the coastline towards Wanganui and also the lowlands at Napier, we did not catch a glimpse of the sea.
We descended to our horses and then rode to camp.
Next morning, Sunday, I arose thoroughly refreshed by my night's rest, and took a pleasant bath in the icy-cold water of the Ohinepango stream. page 17 Having packed our camp equipage, we started about nine for Tokaanu, on the return journey. On looking out for the road, I was surprised to find that it crossed the creek only about 200 yards lower down, so that the site I had chosen for my camp, which I thought to be a mile at least from any path, was so close to the road that our camp might have been easily observed by passers-by had we left a fire burning during our absence. A ride of about half a mile brought us to the Waihoharai stream, which, with its neighbour, the Ohinepango, drained the land lying between Ruapehu and Tongariro; these streams have a great flow of water, and their beds are filled with trachyte boulders, over which the water rushes with great force. There is a Maori wharé at this spot, and it is the usual camping place for tourists passing through the district, there being plenty of wood, water, and food for horses. Between this wharé and Pouto, the first Maori settlement on the way to Tokaanu, there are an infinite number of similar streams to those already spoken of, but placed at the bottoms of steep ravines, which necessitated unpleasant descents and ascents, until the eastern slope of Ngauruhoe is rounded and Lake Roto-Aira comes into view; this is a very lovely sheet of water lying between Pihanga and Ngauruhoe, and there also seemed to be a sprinkling of grass soil in its neighbourhood, the first sign of it I had seen for some time. At the point where the stream leaves the lake there is situated on an eminence the settlement of Pouto, a spot chosen during the war with Te Kooti as a station for some members of the British Defence Force, whose two redoubts are still seen, though in a very dilapidated condition. Here we made the acquaintance of Topia's two wives, who made us a very acceptable lunch that was served by two damsels, one of whom, named Puna Quill, charmed me with her vivacity and smartness. The road leaving Pouto continues on the slope of Pihanga, the upper slopes of which are covered with a fine bush consisting of Totara, Rewa-rewa and White Pine, which indicates good soil, but the road passed over nothing but pumice land, overgrown with fern. On nearer acquaintance I was very much disappointed with this valley, as from the summit of Ruapehu it appeared to be fertile, but on closer inspection I found it almost worthless for pastoral purposes.
A little soil and its usual concomitant of English grass appeared as we neared Tokaanu, with its justly famed hot springs gushing up on every side. As one reaches the pa one passes over a peculiar kind of road that sounds ominously hollow when struck by the horses’ feet, and this mysterious sound with the springs bursting forth on each side gives a traveller a feeling of alarming insecurity. I was glad to give the horses in charge of the landlord, a Mr. Axford, who was once, he told me, educated for a surgeon, but now he keeps the Tokaanu Hotel, with the assistance of a Maori wife. After getting rid of the horses, I was very soon enjoying the luxury of swimming in a warm pool in company with a great number of natives, who spend a great page 18 deal of their time in bathing. The bath most used is an almost circular basin formed by the gradual deposition of silica previously held in solution by the water of the springs. The bath used has no connection with the subterranean reservoir that supplies the numerous springs with their intermittent supply of boiling water, but receives its supply from the upper basin, which appears to overflow about three times in the 24 hours. I suppose the periodical flow is caused, not by the moon's influence or any connection with the tidal system, as is commonly supposed by many, but by the gradual accumulation of steam in the caverns beneath which, when it attains a sufficient power, forces for itself a vent through the boiling water, taking a quantity of water with it. One of the geysers during my stay kept discharging water and steam with great force, and my first night at Tokaanu was spent—at any rate, the greater part of it—away from the fleas of the Tokaanu Hotel, either bathing or wandering about in the bright moonlight amongst Nature's very wonderful works. The hollow booming sound produced by the water as it rushes up intermittently is a most weird and infernal sound. In some quarters the belief is expressed that the “fire” which causes these waters to boil comes from “Hades,” and the natives also seem to have acquired some such idea, for in the event of any accident happening and causing death they say that the sufferer was taken by “the old man below” (“Old Nick”). I was told of several accidents that had happened during the last few years, one being a man belonging to the Defence Force, who was returning from some post with despatches when his horse shied suddenly and threw both himself and rider into one of the boiling pools, and my informant remarked he was “non compos mentis “in a moment. I should say he must have been, and probably without life, too, as my informant doubtless desired to inform me.
My host kindly took me to see the famous petrifying puia or “putrifying buia” as it is sometimes called. (A puia being Maori for a fumarole, and “buia” is a mis-pronunciation of the word.) Axford, against the wish of his cook, took him to see this spring, and he, treading carelessly, succeeded in putting his leg into a boiling mud-hole and very narrowly escaped with his life; for four months he never moved from his bed. These stories made me very watchful and careful, and I never wandered amongst the boiling springs without providing myself with a good stout staff with which I duly prodded any doubtful ground.
The day after my arrival, I visited Waihi, where there is a magnificent water-fall, the water falling probably 130 feet in one leap over a high trachyte cliff that abuts on the Taupo Lake, the water near by being almost unfathomable. This fall is near the spot where Herekeikei, a famous Taupo chief, was swallowed up by a landslip that covered his pa entirely and about forty souls. All except Herekeikei himself are under the landslip yet, that distinguished warrior being the only person whose body was considered to page 19 be worth exhuming. Tokaanu is situated on a delta formed by the Tongariro River, and is a stretch of fair alluvial soil. I was talking to the Maoris about making better use of the good land they possessed by draining, but they informed me that they had made several attempts to drain, but they could get no deeper than twelve inches, because at that depth the drains were stopped by boiling mud; therefore the delta of the river still remains undrained.
The third day I took a canoe and guide, with his Maori wife, and crossed Lake Taupo to Pukana, the late residence of Mr. Grace, who was the superintendent of a mission station established there. This place must have been pretty when inhabited, but when I was there the whole garden was overgrown with fern and a prickly species of mimosa, and the house, which was built of blocks of pumice-stone, placed between wooden beams, had been pulled down by Te Kooti during his raid through the district. Our visit resulted in our obtaining a good cargo of ripe peaches that were growing in the neglected orchard. On our return journey, greatly to the horror of my guide's Maori wife, we paddled the canoe close to the cliff bordering the lake, which is in many places overhanging the water, and wherever a crevice would allow a root to gain a hold it is clothed with very pretty forest ferns, and these, partially concealing the opening to numerous small caves, had a lovely effect. The Maori woman was lying at full length in the canoe and hiding her face, fearing the revenge of the taipo (evil spirit) that is supposed to haunt the deep part of the lake under the cliff and who, she feared, would resent our intrusion by causing some tragic catastrophe. On returning to the creek from which we had started, I was surprised to see thousands upon thousands of young carp in the warm water-holes of the creek; these fish were introduced by a Mr. Morrison, and the Maoris have adopted them.
Notwithstanding the hard toil, the rough climbing, inadequate food and general inconvenience, I thoroughly enjoyed this trip. The view from Ruapehu was ample compensation for all hardships, and it will linger long in my memory.
Now, before returning from the wilds to civilization, I once more gazed on the snow-capped and ice-bound tops of the hoary-headed old mountain and bade it au revoir—not good-bye.
In February, 1879, Mr. George Beetham again climbed Mount Ruapehu; on this occasion he was accompanied by Mr. J. P. Maxwell, C.E., who was at a later period the Chief Commissioner administrating the New Zealand State Railways. On the 14th June of that year Mr. Beetham gave an account of his two climbs on Mount Ruapehu to the members of the Wellington Philosophical Society (N.Z.). A model of the mountain was exhibited and on this Mr. Beetham pointed out the routes that had been taken and also various points of particular interest; some rock specimens from the mountain were also exhibited.
Mr. Maxwell, who was present, gave the members additional information of an interesting nature respecting the country which the explorers had bassed through.
As no written record by Mr. Beetham of the 1879 climb has been found, he story by him cannot be continued, but fortunately Mr. Maxwell was in London recently and advantage was taken of the circumstance to ask him or some notes of this climb, and to this request he courteously acceded.